1. Are leaks of Grand Jury testimony punishable by law?
In the federal system, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6
says that a knowing violation of grand jury secrecy is punishable as criminal contempt
(which is a crime like any other). Those who have violated grand jury secrecy have also
been prosecuted for obstruction of justice, in addition to or instead of criminal
contempt. (The charge brought usually depends on the circumstances: If, for example, a
grand juror leaks details of an investigation to the target of the investigation, this
will probably be prosecuted as both criminal contempt, for knowingly violating secrecy,
and for obstruction of justice, since the leak was intended to let the target try to avoid
2. If a newspaper prints a secret testimony leaked from
Grand Jury Proceedings, what protects the newspaper from prosecution as a handler of
The newspaper would probably not be considered as a handler
or stolen goods, since the information is not really "property." The newspaper
might be considered an aider and abettor of the person who violated grand jury secrecy
and/or a party to a conspiracy to violate grand jury secrecy; either of these theories can
be used to hold the aider and abettor or the conspirator liable for the other party's
substantive offense(s), e.g., criminal contempt and/or obstruction of justice.
aware of any prosecutions like this, though. This may be because newspapers either haven't
been given the opportunity to disseminate illegally revealed grand jury material or, if
given such an opportunity, have declined to do so. Also, the newspaper might claim it did
not realize the information was illegally disseminated (e.g., that the newspaper believed
the information was legally available), and it might be difficult to establish this
element, which is essential to charging the newspaper.
Concerning your response to the newspaper acceptance of
leaks. PBS ran a series covering reporter acceptance of information from "Sources
close to the White House", or "Sources close to the OIC", and it was clear
that they had in mind a particular individual, known to more than one person... When
questioned about the "crime" of leaking Grand Jury information, they virtually
all responded that the crime was that of the leaker, not of the newspaper. It seems clear,
that in many instances, the newspapers know the leak source only too well, but no one seems
to fret about culpability.